Monday, November 22, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like the holidays

Life has been a whirlwind for me the last few months. Election season has come and gone, and now it is almost year-end. I have my trip to Maui and Kauai nearly planned, and cannot wait for the warm air and spending time with a couple of my favorite people in the world!! It sure is expensive to fly off the rock (as they say around here). I love how isolated our little island is, but the major drawback is that airfare is astronomical to travel. I had a conference last week in Juneau, and I was surprised a simple 40 minute flight was over $330.00. That's highway robbery, I say.

We are projected to get some snow tomorrow, which will turn slushy when the rain arrives. We are nearing the end of a cold, dry spell that I thoroughly enjoyed. The days are short now, with sunrise at 7:30 and sunset at 3:30. And we still have a month of the darkest days yet to come.

All is well in my little hamlet. I am looking forward to the holidays coming up. That of decorating my house, listening to carols and drinking egg nog next to my electric heating vent. Ah, the good life.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Summer in Alaska

I grew up in a midwestern city and am accustomed to hot, humid summer days. Summer in Los Angeles was long and my least favorite time of year because the sun was too hot, and it was too bright. I could only lay in the sun for an hour or so before the sunburn would arrive. But in Alaska, the summer is diverse. It gets cool and rainy, and then the sun comes out and it's warm and breezy with temperatures in the upper 70's. With the high humidity here, 78 degrees feels more like 88. I am LOVING this weather. Gosh I feel like an old woman on a rocking chair on the porch talking weather with the other old people. But weather is very important to me, and I love a good storm. Perhaps I was a meteorologist in a past life.

Anyhow, I am so glad we moved to Alaska. It is nothing like I expected. It's so much better. Personally, I have been promoted at work from my entry-level records job to a job better suited for my legal skill set. I work in government, for the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Clerk's office. I was promoted to the position of Deputy Borough Clerk. It's an honor and a privilege to work where I do, doing something I really enjoy.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

July update

I did not know what to expect when it came to the 4th of July festivities in Ketchikan, but I was very impressed. It full out poured all day July 3rd, and was still raining the morning of the 4th. But I guess everyone's prayers worked because the sun came out and we had a beautiful 4th. The parade made it's way down two miles on Tongass (the main road through town), from Tatsuda's IGA to the Plaza. PK had to work, so I went to the parade alone and took cell phone pics for him to see. Some of the floats/participants included representatives from the Prince Rupert city counsel, the little leaguers, Kayhi class of 1980, the mayors of Ketchikan, the Borough and Saxman, and even a float (Gross Theatres?) with a Twilight Saga: Eclipse banner on it. The parade was slow-moving, like herding cats, but it was a lot of fun and really well done. Afterward, I picked up PK from work, and we went to the booths at the Plaza to play games and eat cotton candy, followed by a party and fireworks at 11 pm.

I am continuously amazed by the beauty and serenity of my new home. We are starting to get to know people, and getting involved in the community. I don't think we will ever leave here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Land of the Midnight Sun

I think that the hardest thing about getting used to living in southeast Alaska is the early light and late setting sun. It is light in the 3:00 a.m. hours, and still light at 11:00 pm. Kurt goes to bed early now that he has to get up really early for work, and laughed about going to bed before dark for a couple months. It does make a big difference on my sleep patterns. I just feel off somehow. I know, I know... this winter I will be longing for long daylight hours once more.

One of the local organizations is holding a Midnight 5k/1 mile run/walk, presumably due to midsummer's fast approach. Interesting thought. I might have to go out and watch it, unless I can convince someone to enter with me.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Summer is around the corner

It has been abnormally sunny here lately, which is a welcome change from the grey 40"s and 50's we had been experiencing. It should be closer to 60 by the end of the week, and I can't wait!!

Uninteresting topics aside, I have secured employment here in my new town. I accepted a position with Ketchikan Gateway Borough, in a government position for the first time in my life. I am learning a lot, and although I am back on the bottom on the totem pole of hierarchy, I like it. I work with good people, and in a nice working environment.

Summer approaches, the tourists are milling the streets like ants on a daily basis, and I am gainfully employed at a job I like. I am very happy I moved to this little corner of the world.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Refuge Cove

I am sitting on a fallen tree listening to the waves hit the beach mere feet from where I sit, here at Refuge Cove SRA. Everything is named for a reason, and seeing the beach now, comprised of small strips of rocky beach, I imagine this slice of paradise was named as a refuge for sailors passing through the narrows. The trees likely provided some shelter from the harsh elements when mother nature was wrecking havoc on the early peoples here.

It is chilly here today, only upper 50's and cooler than predicted with a brisk breeze off the cold Pacific. The sun is out for a change, and the warm rays make the cold bearable, almost perfect. This beach is a refuge for me, and a beautiful place to seek refuge from the "city" and listen to the ocean lap lightly against the shore. A father and son are tossing rocks into the water about 100 feet from where I sit, hopefully making a lasting memory. A man with a large, giddy dog is making their way down the steep hill from the parking lot to the shore.

I am reminded that I am on an island, but are surrounded by other islands filled with mountains, nestled here at the bottom of southeast Alaska. The upper elevations of the mountains snuggling up to me on all sides are capped with the latest snowfall, towering over us, majestic and strong. There are two little islands in the middle of the channel that are visible from where I rest, toeing the midpoint between this island and the next, where the airport is located. It is a testament to our friend mother nature as those two islands are jam packed with tall, mature trees, subsisting heartily in the middle of the water. It is a testament to the natural desire of all living things to survive, and thrive regardless of the environment. This can be said of the people who have lived here in Ketchikan today and in days past.

This magical place is my home now, so long as fate allows. Everything in this place is smaller, cleaner and better taken care of than my previous home in Los Angeles, or really, most places I have ever been. I know my little world will change dramatically when the tourists converge, but for now, I will take refuge from my daily life here in this little cove.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Time Is (Not) On My Side

"Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in." ~Henry David Thoreau

Time dictates our everyday lives to a large extent in what we do and when we do it, all in the timeframe of 24 hours per day. Time has moved a bit slower into this part of the world. While this is a contemporary town with at least the basic conveniences, we are very remote. Mail takes many more days here than it did in California, Netflix DVD's take 4 days to get here from Tacoma, WA, jobs for someone with my skill set are few and far between and finding information about places and things to do on the internet is... shall we say, nearly nonexistent? It's quite annoying to me, since I am accustomed to having a large variety of stores available in driving distance (even if traffic was horrible) and a lot of people using craigslist. It just takes a lot of adjustment.

I will feel more adjusted when I start working, getting involved in the community and meeting people. If only that day would come soon... *fingers crossed*

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What's all that white stuff on the mountain?

I woke up to a light dusting of snow on the ground this morning, and completely blanketing the mountains. The trees covered with snow up the side of the mountain is amazing, but this is APRIL after all. The trees are budding, and spring is slowly arriving, and then this? Oh well, the sun is out today in little bits so the snow will melt soon. Mother nature is just reminding us that she is in charge here.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Under the Milky Way Tonight (er last night)

As a kid growing up in Wisconsin, my favorite thing to do in the summer was to go out away from the city lights, lie down in the grass and watch the night stars. I am unabashedly and passionately in love with STARS. To quote the song by the Church in the title of this post, I went outside last night and watched the stars, even with some lights around me. Minus the occasional camping trip, I have not really seen stars in a decade. The only problem here is that it is overcast most of the time, so seeing stars are kind of a luxury, as is the aurora borealis (northern lights) which you can see here around the spring and fall equinox.
"And its something quite peculiar/Something that's shimmering and white/ Leads you here despite your destination/Under the milky way tonight."

Friday, March 26, 2010

Bearology 101

Today's Alaskan lesson: If you are going hiking, bring a gun. Bonus lesson: Bear Spray is essentially a fire extinguisher of pepper spray.

This is really scary to me since I have never been anywhere near a gun, let alone ever imagined carrying a firearm into the woods while HIKING! I used to teach bear safety in Girl Scouts, but think I will bone up on my bear skills before hiking out at Ward Cove. I knew I was moving to a major hunting/fishing location, but both totally creep me out. I have never done either, and am practically having a panic attack thinking about it. However, in deciding to move here, I decided that I would push past my fears and embrace living in the Last Frontier.

Popsicles and 47 degrees

While sitting in the Safeway parking lot yesterday, I watched a man in his early 20's hurry into the store and return in a few minutes eating a lime popsicle and holding the open box and nothing else. Apparently he needed his fix in the balmy 47 degrees. Let's break out the flip flops and beach wear :)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring, where are you?

The sun was out yesterday and this morning, and now the rain has returned. Some of the trees around here seem to finally budding a little. I am finally back in the land of (roughly) 4 seasons, and am chomping at the bit for spring to arrive. I am anxious for the trees to leaf out and the promised wildflowers to arrive... I guess I will have to wait a bit longer.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Cultural Differences

I did not think it would be such a big difference moving up here. Sure, it's remote. But it's still America after all. Wrong... it's almost as if I have moved to a foreign country how different things are. Or is it that I have never lived out in the country, and this area is really more like rural areas in the -48? Interesting thoughts.

People here are reallllllly friendly. Even friendlier than those in my Wisconsin hometown. Everywhere I go, people want to chat. It's funny, PK and I have wanted to move to a small town for some time, and here we are, and it's exactly what I hoped for. Friendly, inviting people, community and all that.

This is a really small town full of character and activity, even in off season. We went to the American Legion for a St. Patrick's Day party. All-you-can-eat corned beef, potatoes, carrots and cabbage. With the Guinness flowing and the Irish band (Paddy's Leather Breeches, who we heard again tonight), we could have been in Ireland. And then there was a changing of the guard when the Irish band finished playing and the bagpipers entered playing at full volume. Very neat.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The obligatory weather post

There is a saying here that there are three types of weather: "Has rained, is raining, will rain". And this is not an exaggeration. It rains on average 160 inches per year, but only 25 or so of that is snow. Winter 09/10 has been very mild. Well, until we got here. We woke up our first morning here to 3 inches of the cold white stuff. Apparently it was the first snow since November. Lucky us. And then there are the 50 mph winds blowing the rain sideways (which was our 2nd day here). Since then, we have seen mostly mid 30's to low 50's. It rains everyday at least a little, and when the sun comes out, people literally run outside to soak up some vitamin D. It has snowed a couple times, and a couple days we actually had quite a bit of sunshine, but all in all, the rain is not too bad. Ask me again in a year :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tongass Outfitters

Went to Tongass Outfitters today and bought serious and expensive rain gear and fleece fishing gloves.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day 6: Prince Rupert, B.C. to Ketchikan, AK

Finally here we are at on the last leg of our long journey to the "Last Frontier". We took a nice hike with Andrea and the dogs, and then said goodbye and went to the ferry terminal. We rode the ferry to Ketchikan, which is supposed to be a 5 hour trek. However, we had HUGE swells, and the boat was rocking from side to side, which the captain said were the worst waves he had ever seen out here. Just my luck. I got pretty darn queasy, but it was a good trip overall. We got in Ketchikan kind of late, and did not get to the Gilmore Hotel until almost 11 pm. We are FINALLY here!!!

Some pics of today's adventure are here.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Day 5: Smithers, B.C. to Prince Rupert, B.C.

Smithers (home of the Smithereens) was a beautiful place surrounded by high mountain peaks all around, but it is nothing compared to the drive from Smithers to Prince Rupert. We saw a number of eagles, birds of all kinds and lots of snow on the ground :) Cold, but we lucked out weather-wise. Prince Rupert is an amazing small town on the coast. It was grey and snowy when we got there. We went to Cow Bay to have lunch at Cowpuccino cafe and read a good book.

We stayed at a brand new Bed and Breakfast called Tall Trees. Andrea, the proprietor, has three dogs that I fell in love with. PK and I hung out with her all night,having dinner, chatting and watching Iron Chef. The Inn is very welcoming, charming, and made me feel instantly at home. I hope to keep in touch with Andrea.

Today's pics are here.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Day 4: Quesnel, B.C. to Smithers, B.C.

We took our time leaving Quesnel this morning, because today's drive was to be very easy compared to the last few days... and it was. But when we got to Smithers at 4 pm, nothing was open!! It is a bummer since today we had time to hang out and experience an AMAZING place. They say the mountains (The Seven Sisters) are like being in Switzerland, and I can see why. For the first time in a long time, we have a view from our hotel room. We look out over Hwy 16, towards a giant mountain. It's a bummer we came here on a Sunday in off-season, because there is so much to do and see here. Maybe we will come back sometime when the weather is better.

Pics from today are here... Click Here

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Day 3: Bellevue, WA to Quesnel, B.C.

Today was a much easier driving day than yesterday. Getting through the Canadian border was much easier than I imagined, seeing as our poor SUV is literally crammed full of our belongings and I was scared we would get searched. If you were to open any rear door a catastrophe would ensue. But the guard was really cool, even asking PK questions about TSA regulations for his upcoming holiday in Mexico!!! The initial drive in Canada was amazing, through incredible mountains. Even though we had to cover 500 miles today, most of the time I could drive 100 km/hr on cruise control and made it here to Quesnel, B.C. by 6:30 p.m.

The hotel is surely a let down from the last two nights, but it's decent (part of the Sandman Hotel chain) and reasonably priced. There are not so many options in this part of the country.

We went to a hotel/casino tonight that looks like a riverboat!!! Really freaking cool. It is like a mini Las Vegas casino hotel. We hit the 2 cent slots but did not win anything. Playing is the fun part anyhow.

Anyway, some of today's pics are here: Click here

Friday, March 5, 2010

Day 2: Redding, CA to Bellevue, WA

So here we are on day 2 of our Great Alaskan Adventure. We drove upwards of 10 hours today, and words have cease making sense, so here's a link to some of the amazing things I saw today, like Mt. Shasta, Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier, not to mention the beautiful scenery and two states I have never visited before. Here are a few pics from today's looooooonnnnnnggggggg drive. Click Here

On an unrelated note, I met the doppelganger of my sister and her husband tonight, very bizarre indeed. The Hotel Sierra Bellevue is tonight's resting spot, which has far exceeded my expectations. Wendi the bartender was a hoot, and we had yummy Henry Weinhart(?) beers and a couple shots of Jack Daniels, which is making me sleepy, so I must go..... more to come.

Trip Day 1: Los Angeles, CA to Anderson, CA

Yesterday was the first of our long, long drive to Prince Rupert, B.C. We drove 530ish miles, and stayed at a fantastic eco-friendly hotel called Gaia Shasta Hotel. A few pics are posted on Flickr, the link is here: Click Here

This area of Northern California has been on my radar for some time, and I would love to come back to visit the National Parks/Monuments such as Mt. Shasta and Lassen. Even though we are driving 8-10 hours each day, the natural beauty of this great state helps relax me and clear my senses. Dinner at Gaia was phenomenal (The Woodside Grill), and we even took a dip in the outdoor hot tub. Very relaxing and amazing hotel. Had to get up early again the next day--- rinse and repeat.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Woe is me (or why it is good to downsize)

We are T-minus 33 hours and counting. PK and I have been tag-teaming the sort, pack and errand duties for the last week or so, and today was his turn while I went to work for the second to last time. He ran a dry run to see if everything we are taking will fit in our Kia Sorento, and it does, but by a miniscule margin. We have purged almost everything we own. Save a few boxes which were shipped today, everything we are bring to Alaska fits in the back of our truck.

I am excited, but I don't think it will seem completely real until we are driving I-5 towards Northern California. I guess that's it for now... 'nite!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ketchikan, here we come!

I have always been a City Girl. I was born and raised in a rather small city in Wisconsin, and moved to California after college 10 years ago. Since then, I have lived in San Diego, San Francisco and most recently, Los Angeles.

So you may ask, why on earth are you leaving Los Angeles, California and moving to Ketchikan, Alaska, population 7845, on an island where it receives 160 inches of precipitation per year? Well, the answer is simple: job transfer. That, coupled with the life-long desire to go to Alaska.

Los Angeles has been strangling me for three years (so to speak). The city is amazing, don't get me wrong, but I love nature, camping, hiking, etc., and long for open spaces and just being in nature. Less traffic, less pollution, less congestion. When my husband (let's call him PK) was offered a job transfer to Alaska, we jumped on the opportunity.

We leave for our Great Alaskan Adventure in five days, and my plan for this blog is to confess what it's like moving from one of the largest cities in the world to one of the smallest, which is not even in the continental united states.